Friday, May 05, 2006

Blogging 101:

So I've been at this for about two weeks now. Thanks to everyone for participating so actively. I've received more comments in two weeks than I thought I would get in two years. Here is a quick list of what I have learned so far:

  • This is different than keeping a diary. A diary is private thoughts, or at least they are intended to be. A blog is out there for all the world to see, and it's always on the forefront of your mind.

  • That said, it doesn't change what you write about, but how you write it. I've remained very conscious that there is and audience. I think that has made my entries more interesting.

  • I noticed immediately that blogs without graphics, or links, or bullet points were very uninteresting. So I added some.

  • Short entries are much more likely to be read. This is not one of those entries, unfortunately.

  • I realize this can only get better if I learn more. It's a medium I'm unaccustomed to, and not very knowledgeable in. That will change.

I've learned a great deal from a neat feature you may have noticed at the top of the page that says "Next Blog." This is an easy way to surf through random blogs. I'm not going to lie to you; you've done well if 1 out of 100 clicks yields something interesting. But in 100 clicks, I began to notice a pattern of when I would stop. Here are some of the things bloggers can control:
  • Graphics are interesting. My page needs something at the top, or perhaps running down the blue left-hand panel. I do not yet possess the knowledge on how to make this happen, but I will. Generally, if there wasn't an interesting graphic immediately, I skipped ahead to the next one.

  • I originally didn't fill in the About Me section. I figured people would read to learn about me. Turns out (surprise), people are lazy (myself included). That was one of the things I looked at first.

  • Title of the blog matters. I think mine is interesting and inviting. Others, not so much.

  • You get about one sentence to catch a reader's attention. If you start of a blog with "So, today I went shopping, then to the hair dresser, and then I went home. OMG, I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo bored," your reader will be to.

  • Like it or not, spelling and grammar matter. A lot. On top of that, if you don't break up the text (new paragraphs, bullet points, etc), you get a enormous blob of text that has a 0.0% chance of being read in its entirety, if at all.

There were a couple of things I had no control over. The link that sends you to blogs may send you to one that originated in a different country. If you cannot read the language, you're moving on, no matter how compelling the graphics are. There may be a way to tweak it so you only go to your native languages blog, but again, I'm not that advanced yet.

I know there has to be a way, because someone incorporated a feature I really want. When I hit next blog from his blog, it opened the blog in a new window. This forced me to go back to his blog once more, even if it was just to close the window. I respect how he was able to cheat me into looking twice, especially since I didn't even realize it opened a new window--making his the last blog I saw that night.

Lastly, some blogs it took you to did not have a "next blog" button. You'd think this is a good idea, but I found it offensive. While it didn't allow me to skip to another page easily, as soon as I noticed it wasn't there, I got annoyed. This usually resulted in an immediate click of the "back" button so I could skip to another random blog. The good news is, this is more evidence that the button can be manipulated.

I know this probably won't get many comments. I think less than 1/2 of my readers are bloggers themselves, but I do hope some of you will add to these thoughts, and perhaps share a little insight as to how to make this machine better (especially those of you who have been doing this a lot longer than yours truly).



Paul said...

You seem to be picking up the basics, heck even the more sophisticated bits, pretty quick. Good job. a quick question. What led you to my blog?

JoBiv said...

The biggest issue I've had to learn to deal with is being careful of other people's privacy. I only write a person's real name if they've given me permission. It's become fun to make up pseudonyms, though.

Funny how we have similar reactions to the lack o' Next Blog button. I always feel like yelling, "YOU THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN US? HUH? PUNK?" It's a lil antisocial if you ask me.